Joseph Haydn 1791

Beethoven 1814


In our journey through the world of the Seventh Symphony, we already encountered various hints at Beethoven's next symphonic work that, as we also learned, was written immediately after Op. 92.  What characterizes the Eight Symphony?  Perhaps, an 'answer' to this question can be found by considering the following:   

"The expression of a child-like, serene mind, governs Haydn's compositions.  His symphonies lead us  to endlessly green pastures, to a merry, colorful throng of happy people.  Dancing youths and maidens are floating by; laughing children, hiding behind trees and rose bushes, throw flowers at each other.  A life full of love, of bliss, like before original sin, in eternal youth; no suffering, no pain, only a sweet, melancholy longing for a figure that floats by in the distance, at dusk, and does not come nearer, does not vanish, and, as long as it is present, it does not turn into night, since it is the evening glow, itself, in which mountains and fields are steeped . . . ,

is what E.T.A. Hoffmann wrote in his famous essay on Beethoven's instrumental music about Haydn's symphonies.  Even if we, today, can no longer wholeheartedly agree with Hoffmann's rather idyllic description of Haydn's symphonies, essentially, he was not wrong.  What does all of this have to do with Beethoven's Eighth Symphony?  Perhaps, Barry Cooper might have an answer to this:   

"The most outstanding characteristic of the Eighth is perhaps its wit and humour, and in this feature, as well as its conciseness, it is closer to Haydn than to Beethoven's other symphonies,"  [Cooper: 213] --

-- this is how Cooper, in part,  describes Beethoven's Eight Symphony.  Did Beethoven, in this work, look back on the achievements of his predecessor?  In our look at all aspects of this symphony, let us also try to follow this train of thought!  




Of course, in order to do that, we have to try to gain access to it.  Let us embark on this by following its first traces in Thayer-Forbes' standard biography:  

"Mention should be made of the so-called Petter sketchbook, now part of the Bodmer collection in Bonn.  Unger has resolved the conflict between Thayer and Nottebohm concerning the date of this sketchbook by a closer study of the properties of the paper used.  The book consists of two parts which did not originally belong together:  a first section of only 9 sheets belong to the year 1809 and a second section of 65 sheets belonging to the second half of 1811. [11: see Max Unger, "Eine Schweizer Beethoven-Sammlung," NBJ, v. (1933), p. 455] Thus work on the seventh and eighth symphonies which occurs almost completely in the second section of the sketchbooks was not really started at all in this year as Thayer had supposed" [TF: 473].

The above, general comment refers to the year 1811.  However, TF narrows the time of the creation of this work down even more:  

"According to Unger, [27: NBJ, (1933), p. 45] the last 130 pages of the Petter sketchbook are to be dated from the middle of 1811 to well into the following year.  Thayer believed that most of them were to be dated 1809.  The importance in the redating of these sketches is in the establishment of 1811 as the year in which work started on the seventh and eighth symphonies, and even early attempts at what was to become of the choral section of the Ninth Symphony.  Thayer's summary of these pages follows:

. . .

On page 71 begin the sketches for the first, on page 83, for the last movement of the Eighth Symphony.  Scattered along this part of the sketchbook are divers subjects for pianoforte works; . . . " [TF: 518-519].

In our creation history of the Seventh Symphony, we learned that Beethoven probably had 'officially' completed its composition in April, 1812, since, as we quoted Barry Cooper there, its autograph is dated April 12, 1812. 

Since we now know when Beethoven would have had time to, very likely, embark on his composition of the Eighth Symphony, let us take a closer look at his life circumstances during the year 1812 by referring to his correspondence in the Henle Gesamtausgabe:  

* On April 20, from Reval in the Baltic, the writer August von Kotzebue wrote to Beethoven and discussed texts to Koenig Stephan, Die Ruinen von Athen and possible additional opera texts [GA Vol. 2, Letter No. 573, p. 258-260];

* Opera text also play a role in Beethoven's letter of April 21, 1812, to the poet Theodor Körner [1791- 1813, the son of Schiller's friend Christian Gottffried Körner] who, at that time, was employed as R.I. Court Poet.  On account of his ill health, Beethoven asks him to pay him a visit so that matters could be discussed further  [GA Vol. 2, Letter No. 574, p. 260-261];

* Also at the beginning of May, Beethoven appeared to still have been ill and very busy, as his lines of May 8, 1812, to Joseph von Varena in Graz show.  In this letter, among other things, he offered Varena Op. 92 for the benefit concert of the Ursulines in Graz [GA Vol. 2, Letter No. 576, p. 261-263];

* In his letter of May 25 to Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig, Beethoven referred to his Mass in C-Major, Op. 86, but also to '3 new symphonies, of which one has already been completed', thus also to the fact that he was already working on Op. 93  [GA Vol. 2, Letter No. 577, p. 263-264];

* On June 3rd, Beethoven's 'personal assistant' at the time, Franz Oliva, wrote to the officer, diplomat and writer Karl August Varnhagen von Ense in Prague  and asked him for a favor on behalf of Beethoven, in the matter of the payment of Prince Kinsky's part of his annual pension [GA Vol. 2, Letter No. 578, p. 264-265];


Karl August Varnhagen von Ense


* Varnhagen von Ense replied to these lines on June 9th to the effect that Prince Kinsky had immediately acknowledged that Beethoven's request was justified and that, when the composer would travel through Prague on his way to the Bohemian spas, he should turn immediately to him, Varnhagen von Ense, in this matter  [GA Vol. 2, Letter No. 579, p. 266];

* On July 5th, Varnhagen von Ense wrote to Goethe in Weimar and also referred to Beethoven's reverence of him and to the fact that, in this year, the composer would again attempt to harness the healing forces of Teplitz against his unfortunate deafness [GA Vol. 2, Letter No. 581, p. 267-268];

* As we already know, on July 6/7, from Teplitz, Beethoven wrote his famous letter to his 'Immportal Beloved' [GA Vol. 2, Letter No. 682, p. 268 -272];

* On July 14, from Teplitz, Beethoven asked Varnhagen von Ense in Prague to send him "3 parts of Goethe's Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre here by mail coach" [GA Vol. 2, Letter No. 583, p. 272-273];

* On July 15th, the Leipzig publisher Ambrosius Kühnel asked Beethoven to send him manuscripts of some of his new works [GA Vol. 2, Letter No. , p. 273-274];

* How lonely Beethoven must have felt during these days at Teplitz can be seen from the famous lines he wrote to the child Emilie M. in Hamburg, on July 17.  She had sent him a wallet that she had made, herself.  Let us quote a few important passages:  "Nicht entreiße Händel, Haydn, Mozart ihren Lorbeerkranz; ihnen gehört er zu, mir noch nicht" ["do not take the laurels from Handel, Haydn, Mozart" and " . . . "ich kenne keine andern Vorzüge des Menschen, als diejenigen, welche ihn zu den besseren Menschen zählen machen; wo ich diese finde, dort ist meine Heimath" ["I know no better human traits than those that allow man to be counted among the better human beings; wherever I find these, there is my home" [GA Vol. 2, Letter No. 584, p. 274-275];

* Also on July 17th, Beethoven must have asked the publisher Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig to forward his letter to Emilie M. in Hamburg and also to send to his Teplitz acquaintance from last year, the Berlin singer Amalie Sebald, the score of his oratorio, Christ on the Mount of Olives, and also "heyde hefte von Goethens Gesängen" ["both books of Goethe's songs"] [GA Vol. 2, Letter No. 586, p. 275-278];

* On July 19th, Beethoven thanked Joseph Varena in Graz "für die guten Sachen, die mir die würdigen Frauen alle zum Naschen geschickt" ["for the good things that the worthy ladies had sent for me to nibble on"], thus for a present that the Ursuline nuns had sent him from Graz [GA Vol. 2, Letter No. 587, p. 278-279];

* Beethoven's letter of July 24th to Breitkopf & Härtel mentions "dass Goethe hier ist, schrieb ich ihnen, täglich bin ich mit ihm zusammen" [That Goethe is here, I have already written to you, I am meeting him every day"] [GA Vol. 2, Letter No. 588, p. 279-280; pursuant to Letter no. 586, Goethe had arrived at Teplitz on July 14th and met Beethoven for the first time on July 19th];

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 1810
Painting by the Bonn Beethoven Friend
Gerhard von  Kuegelgen


* On August 5th, George Thomson from Edinburgh sent a letter to Beethoven which was written in French.  In it, he discussed the Folk Song arrangements that he had commissioned from him [GA Vol. 2, Letter No. 590, p. 281 - 285];

* In his letter of August 9th to Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig Beethoven wrote that it was so cold, "dass man schreiben könnte am 9ten November" ["that one could write on the 9th of November"] and discussed particulars with respect to Op. 86 and also commented, "Goethe behagt die Hofluft zu sehr mehr als es einem Dichter ziemt.  Es ist nicht vielmehr über die lächerlichkeiten der Virtuosen hier zu reden, wenn Dichter, die als die ersten Lehrer der Nation angesehn seyn sollten, über diesem schlimmer alles andere vergessen können" ["Goethe loves the court environment far more than behooves a poet.  Here, one should rather not discuss the ridiculous hehavior of the virtuosos when poets who should be considered the first teachers of the nation can forget themselves more than all others"] [GA Vol. 2, Letter No. 591, p. 285 - 288];

* On August 12th, Beethoven wrote to Archduke Rudolph from Franzensbrunn and mentioned details of his summer sojourn, including of his new acquaintance with Goethe and of his benefit concert for the victims of the fire at Baden near Vienna that he and Polledro had put on  [GA Vol. 2, Letter No. 592, p. 288-289];

* Back at Teplitz, in September, Beethoven wrote several notes to his "nurse maid"  Amalie Sebald; these letters were written between September 16th [GA Vol. 2, Letter No. 593, p. 289-290] to September 22nd [GA Vol. 2, Letter No.  601, p. 295];

* In-between, on September 17th [GA Vol. 2, Letter No. 594, p. 290-291] and on September 23rd [GA Vol.. 2, Letter No. 602, p. 296], Beethoven and  Breitkopf & Härtel corresponded; Beethoven indicated that he wanted to visit Leipzig, which did not happen, after all, while the content of the return letter by the publisher is not known; 

* The GA also ascribes a fragment of a letter to Prince Ferdinand Kinsky to September 1812, in which Beethoven described himself as "so arm" ["so poor"], "dass er selbst weder seine Kunst ferner <Weder> fuer die Reichen [noch] * die Armen ausüben" ["he can excercise his art neither for the rich nor for the poor"] [GA Vol. 2, Letter No. 603, p. 296].

These are the last "Teplitz" lines in the Henle Gesamtausgabe.  As we know from our Online Biography and from some of our other creation histories, on his return journey to Vienna, Beethoven also stayed with his brother Johann Nikolaus in Linz.  With respect to his sojourn there, TF discusses his compositional activity in Linz: 

"Beethoven's professional occupation in Linz was the completion of the Eighth Symphony, which, on Johann van Beethoven's doubtful authority, was wrought out from sketches during walks to and upon the Pöstlingsberg.  Beethoven had begun to work industriously on the Eighth Symphony before he went to Teplitz; indeed he seems to have reported to Breitkopf and Härtel in a letter which has not been preserved, but which was sent from Franzensbrunn, that he had finished two symphonies; for the Allg. Mus. Zeit. of September 2, 1812, says:  "L. van Beethoven, who took the cures first at Teplitz, then in Karlsbad and is now in Eger, has . . . again composed two new symphonies."  But the autograph bears the inscription: "Linz in October, 1812."  " [TF: 543].

Let us conclude our establishing of the time frame of Beethoven's work on the Eight Symphony with some corroborating comments by present-day authors: 

"Beethoven's first sketches for the Seventh Symphony in the Petter Sketchbook appear to date from the time at Teplitz [1811].  This work and its companion, the Eighth Symphony, were Beethoven's main projects during the following year.  When he returned to Teplitz in the summer of 1812 he made sketches for the Eighth Symphony in later parts of the same sketchbook" [Kinderman: 153].

"The Seventh and Eighth Symphonies were sketched successively, starting in the closing months of 1811, and were completed the following year--the Seventy by April and the Eighth by October.  The main work on the Eighth was done during Beethoven's Bohemian sojourn in the aftermath of the Immortal Beloved letter." [Solomon: 213].

"Surely the most important biographical consequence of this letter is that it signals Beethoven's renunciation of any further attempt to marry or form a lasting love relationship.  Nor was it accidental that the summer of 1812 coincided with a critical turning point in his creative career--the completion of the Eighth Symphony and the end of what we have come to see as his second maturity" [Lockwood: 200].

After our having established the time frame for Beethoven's main work on the Eighth Symphony and after our look at his correspondence during this time that also provided us with hints as to his general life circumstances,  and after our look at his work on this symphony in Linz, let us return again to the so-called Petter sketchbook and let us quote from our section on the Seventh Symphony, the passage in which we featured some interesting quotes from the sketch collection at the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn:   

"Let us introduce some interesting quotes from the first page of the Sketchbook Collection of the Digital Beethoven-Haus in Bonn: 

"The so-called Petter Sketchbook (HCB Mh 59) with its 74 leaves is today still almost complete. Several leaves were, however, removed after Beethoven's death and were passed on to others."

"Most of the sketches in this book are for the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies."

"The Petter Sketchbook has a characteristic watermark, which is seldom to be found in Beethoven's papers."

" . . . More important for the identification are, however, the stitch holes. . . . "

It is further reported that Gustav Adolf Petter, a one-time owner of this sketchbook, had it newly bound but that already previously, during Beethoven's life time, the pages must have been bound.   As is explained, the old binding was not along the fold as was the newer one. "Instead two holes were made in the margin about one centimetre from the fold and 16,5 cm apart, through which thread was to be drawn.  The measurements of the two holes and the distance between them allow single leaves to be easily assigned to a miscellany."  [Source: Ludwig van Beethoven, Skizzenblatt zur Sinfonie Nr. 7 op. 92, 2. und 4. Satz, Autograph. Beethoven-Haus Bonn, BH 120 [Cited on July 29,  2007]."

Here, we also want to feature links to the introduction of sketches to the Eighth Symphony at the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn:  


Sketch Sheet to Symphony No. 8 op. 93, 1st Movement, Autograph
Beethoven-Haus Bonn, BH 122

"Petter" Sketch Book, Autograph
Beethoven-Haus Bonn, H. C. Bodmer Collection, HCB Mh 59

Sketch Sheet to Symphony No. 8 op. 93 and to a not completed Symphony, Autograph
Beethoven-Haus Bonn, H. C. Bodmer Collection, HCB Mh 86

Sketch Sheet to Symphony No. 8 op. 93, Autograph, Fragment
Beethoven-Haus Bonn, NE 126

Symphony No. 8 (F-Major) op. 93, Finale of the 1st Movement, Score, Autograph
Beethoven-Haus Bonn, H. C. Bodmer Collection, HCB BMh 8/48

After our look at the time of the cretion of this work, it might be interesting to take a look at details with respect to it that are based on fact and also at dubious facts: 

"Another recent finding is Sieghard Brandenburg's discovery from manuscript sources that Beethoven sketched the opening Allegro of the Eighth Symphony as a piano concerto.[18 'Ein Skizzenbuch Beethovens aus dem Jahre 1812', Zu Beethoven, ed. Goldschmidt, i, pp. 135-9]  Much of the symphonic exposition, up to the passage in dotted rhythm, was to have served as the introductory orchestral ritornello in the tonic key; at this point the solo piano was to enter with a cadenza.  The transformation of the nascent concerto into a symphony required no changes in the basic progression of themes" [Kinderman: 159].

After this 'serious' discovery, let us take a look at Schindler's possible forgery:  

"Schindler's account of the origin of the famous Allegretto Scherzando adds a new name to our dramatis personae.  . . . It is now to be seen whether Schindler's account of the Allegretto Scherzando will bear examiniation. It is this:
"In the spring of the year 1812, Beethoven, the mechanician Mälzel, Count von Brunsvik, Stephan von Breuning and others, sat together at a farewell meal, the first about to undertake the visit to his brother Johann in Linz, there to work out his Eighth Symphony and afterward to visit the Bohemian baths--Mälzel, however, to journey to England to exploit his famous trumpet-player automaton. The later project had to be abandoned, however, and indefinitely postponed. The time-machine--metronome--invented by this mechanician, was already in such a state of forwardness, that Salieri, Beethoven, Weigl and other musical notabilities had given a public testimonial of its utility. Beethoven, generally merry, witty, satirical, 'unbuttoned,' as he called it, at this farewell meal improvised the following canon, which was at once sung by the participants."[27: Biog., i, pp. 195-196]
Schindler here prints the now well-known canon[28: WoO 162] and adds: "Out of this canon was developed the Allegretto Scherzando."
The symphony was composed in 1811 and 1812 with the final working-out in the summer of 1812, thus Schindler's statement that the canon preceded the composing of the second movement is not necessarily correct. His date of the meal may be questioned on two counts. First, the list of 'Arrivals in Vienna" do not include Count Brusnvik's name between March, 1810 and February, 1813; and second, Mälzel did not abandon his project of journeying to England until late in the year 1813.
The Conversation Books show, in Schindler's own hand, how he became possessed of the canon. In a Conversation Book (1820) he writes: "The motif of the canon, 2nd movement of the 8th symphony--I cannot find the original--you will, I hope, have the kindness to write it down for me." Again in 1824 he writes: "I am just in the second movement of the 8th symphony--ta, ta, ta,--the canon on Mälzel--it was really a very jolly evening when we sang this canon in the 'Kamehl'--Mälzel was then for a few months again in Vienna. On the first of these occasions, therefore, the word "Chronometer" must have been sung, and the "ta, ta, ta" represented the beat of the lever on the anvil. On the second, as Mälzel had returned to Vienna with the "Metronome," that word was substituted, and of course retained in the copy made in 1820" [TF: 543-545].

"One of the humorous anecdotes often related about the symphony must be disallowed, however.  Schindler wrote that the Allegretto scherzando of the Eighth was based on a canon that Beethoven improvised in the spring of 1812 at a farewell dinner for Johann Nepomuk Mälzel. Mälzel was an investor best known for his devices to measure musical tempo. His first such device was the 'chronometer', which he was anxious to publicize at precisely this time (it was only several years later, in 1814, that he invented the metronome), and Beethoven's interest in him was connected in part to Mälzels efforts to fashion ear-trumpets for the deaf composer. According to Schindler, Beethoven's party canon on 'ta ta ta'--representing the beat of the chronometer--supplied the principal motif for the second movement of the symphony. Research since the 1970s has indicated that the Mälzel canon is almost certainly a forgery.[17 See especially the symposium of essays by Stanley Howell, Kathryn John, and Harry Goldschmidt in Zu Beethoven, ed. Goldschmidt, ii, pp. 163-204]. Schindler forged many entries in the conversation notebooks that came into his possession. He had no scruples about fabricating history and did not hesitate to falsify sources to support the account published in his Beethoven biography. There is no manuscript for the alleged Mälzel canon, and the historical facts and sketch sources contradict Schindler's account of the genesis of the Allegretto Scherzando. Thus this colourful story must be laid to rest, despite its illustrious career in Beethoven biography" [Kinderman: 159].

Thayer-Forbes [p. 547] still points out that both the Seventh and the Eighth Symphonies as well as the Canon 'Ta ta ta", WoO 162 were created in 1811-1812.  


The Hofburg in Vienna in Beethoven's Time





The above creation history tells us that very likely, the Eighth Symphony was essentially completed during Beethoven's fall 1812 stay at his brother Johann's house in Linz.  From our Biographical Pages we know that there, Beethoven not only vigorously opposed his brother's life style, namely his common-law relationship with his housekeeper Therese, but that he also tried to put an end to it.  

In the section on the premiere of Beethoven's Symphonies in our preceding page, tracing some of his correspondence of January, 1813, we also gained an impression of Beethoven's emotional and financial state of that time.  Let us briefly reconsider it:  

* On January 6th, [GA Vol. 2, Letter No. 615, p. 313-314] Beethoven wrote to Archduke Rudolph:   "Ich war eben gestern ausgegangen, als ihr gnädiges Schreiben[2] bey mir anlangte-- was meine Gesundheit anbelangt, so ist's wohl dasselbe, um so mehr, da hierauf Moralische Ursachen wirken, die sich sobald nicht scheinen heben zu wollen, um so mehr, da ich nur alle Hülfe bey mir selbst suchen, und nur in meinem Kopf die Mittel dazu finden muß . . . " ["I had just gone out when your gracious letter arrived at my house--as far as my health is concerned, it is still the same, all the fore, since moral reasons are behind it that do not appear to vanish, easily, especially since I have to seek all help from within myself and only in my head . . . "];

* Also on January 6th [GA Vol. 2, Letter No. 616, p. 314-315], Beethoven wrote to Countess Maria Eleonora Fuchs:  "wie leid thut es mir nicht ihrer Einladung folge leisten zu können, allein ich habe eben etwas sehr dringendes zu schreiben, denn leider ist dieses das einzige, was mir übrig bleibt troz allen Aufopferungen, die ich gemacht, wenn ich nicht vor Hunger umkommen will -- und einen meiner Unglücklichen kranken Brüder[3] nicht ebenfalls Umkommen laßen will -- . . . " ["I am sorry that I can not follow your invitation, alone, at the moment, I urgently have to write something, since it is the only thing that remains for me in spite of all sacrifices that I have made, if I do not want to starve--and if I do not want to also let my poor, sick brother[3] go asunder-- . . . " [3]: refers to Kaspar Karl van Beethoven, who suffered from tuberculosis].

As we already mentioned in our corresponding section to the Seventh Symphony, Beethoven's life circumstances of this winter were also shaped by his struggle to receive payment of the share of his pension he had lost on account of Prince Kinsky's death [as is evident from his correspondence of February 12th with Princess Marie Charlotte Kinsky and from the correspondence of Dr. Johann Nepomuk Franz Lippa with Johann Michael Obermiller in this matter (Letter No. 627 of March 22nd and Letter No. 628 of March 26, 1813)] and by his negotiations with George Thomson in Edinburgh [see Letter No. 621 of February 2, 1813, by Beethoven to Thomson, Letter No. 623 of February 19, 1813, by Thomson to Beethoven, Letter No. 626 of March 6, 1813, by Fries & Comp. to George Thomson, and Letter No. 629 of March 27, 1813, by George Thomson to Beethoven].

This leads us up to the time of Beethoven's rehearsal in the rooms of Archduke Rudolph at the Hofburg in Vienna and that of his attempts at holding an academy concert in the spring of 1813.   In our section on the Seventh Symphony, we also quoted extensively from Beethoven's correspondence of this time.  Let us briefly summarize it here:  

1.  No. 630 GA Vol. 2, p. 333-334, Beethoven to Joseph von Varena in Graz in March 1813: Beethoven offered him again "2 ganz neue Sinfonien" ["2 entirely new Symphonies" [4: Op. 92 and Op. 93] for the upcoming concert of the Ursuline nuns [pursuant to Letter No. 631 to Zmeskall, footnote 1, this concert had been planned for the 11th of April, GA Vol. 2, p. 334-335];

2.  No. 634, GA Vol. 2, p. 337, Beethoven to Archduke Rudolph, probably April 14th: "Es ist nicht möglich bis Morgen um Eilf Uhr die Stimmen[2: möglicherweise Stimmen zur Achten Symponie op. 93, für eine geplante Orchesterprobe, [3: die Probe fand laut GA erst am 21. April 1813 in den Gemächern des Erzherzogs in der Hofburg statt, Verweis auf Brief 642 vom 22. April an Zmeskall] verdoppelt zu haben" ["It is not possible to have the two parts [2: probably the parts to the Eighth Symphony, Op. 93, for a planned orchestra rehearsal, {3: according to the GA, the rehearsal took place at Archduke Rudolph's rooms at the Hofburg on April 21st; here, the GA refers to Letter No. 642 of April 22 to Zmeskall] doubled by tomorrow at eleven o'clock"];

3.  No. 635, GA Vol. 2, p. 337 - 339, Beethoven to Archduke Rudolph, probably on April 16th: "Es ist noch alles im alten Zustande, daher muste ich den Entschluss fassen 2 Akademien zu geben, meine frühern Entschlüsse D.g. bloss zu einem Wohlthätigen Zweck zu geben,[2: verweist auf das ursprünglich geplante Grazer Benefizkonzert, bei dem Op. 92 und Op. 93 aufgeführt werden sollten; Verweis auf Beethovens Briefe an Varena im Jahr 1812] musste ich aufgeben, denn die Selbsterhaltung heischt es nun anders.--Der Universitäts-Saal wäre am Vortheilhaftesten und Ehrenvollsten für mein jeziges vorhaben, und meine gehorsamste Bitte besteht darin, dass I.K.H. <nur> die Gnade hätten, nur ein Wort an den Dermaligen rector magnificus der Unviersität[3: Franz Xaver Haberstock] Durch den Baron Schweiger gelangen zu lassen, wo ich den gewiss diesen Saal erhalten würde-- . . . " ["Everything is still the same; due to this, I had to resolve to give two academy concerts; my earlier resolution to give them only for benefit purposes [2: refers to the originally planned Graz benefit concert, at which Op. 92 and Op. 93 were supposed to be performed; here, the GA refers to Beethoven's letter to Varena in 1812] I had to abandon, since self-preservation now dictates, otherwise.--The University Hall would be most advantageous and honorable for my present plans, and my most obedient request is that your R.I.H. would only have the graciousness to let word get to the former rector magnificus of the University [3: Franz Xaver Haberstock] through Baron Schweiger, so that I would certainly receive the hall-- . . . "];;

4. No. 636, GA Vol. 2, p. 339, Beethoven to Baron Joseph Schweiger von Lerchenfeld, probably April 16th; refers to Beethoven's request to Archduke Rudolph to put in a word for him so that he would receive the University Hall for two academy concerts; Schweiger was to speak to the President of the University on his behalf; 

5.  No. 638, GA Vol. 2, p. 340 - 341, Beethoven to Zmeskall, April 19th:  "Der UniversitäsS[aal] werther Z. ist -- abgeschlagen -- Vorgestern erhielt ich diese Nachricht, seit gestern krank konte ich nicht zu ihnen kommen, und auch heute nicht, um sie zu sprechen . . ."; als Veranstaltungsorte bieben also nur noch das Kärtnertortheater, das Theater an der Wien und der Augarten"; ["The University Hall, my worthy Z., has--been refused--the day before yesterday, I received this news; ill since yesterday, I was not able to visit you and also not today, in order to speak to you . . . "; therefore, there only remained the Kärtnertortheater, the Theater-an-der-Wien and ther Augarten as venues];

6.  No. 639, GA Vol. 2, p. 341, Beethoven to Zmeskall, April 20th:  In this Letter, Beethoven referred to the rehearsal of Op. 92 and Op. 93 as well as of Op. 117 at 3 o'clock on April 21st; 

7.  No. 640, GA Vol. 2, p. 342, Beethoven to Archduke Rudolph, April 20th; in this letter, he referred to the rehearsal of the next day; 

8.  No. 641, GA Vol. 2, p. 342-343, Beethoven to Archduke Rudolph, April 21st: In this letter, he again referred to the rehearsal of this day; 

9.  No. 642, GA Vol. 2, p. 642, Beethoven to Zmeskall, April 22nd:  In this letter, Beethoven mentioned the bad playing of Kraft's son at the rehearsal of April 21st; 

10.No. 643, GA Vol. 2, p. 344, Beethoven to Zmeskall, probably Apr. 22nd: In this letter, Beethoven quoted Archduke Rudolph "Wenn ich den Lobkowitz sehe, werde ich mit ihm sprechen" ["When I see Lobkowitz, I will speak to him"];

11. No. 644, GA Vol. 2, p. 344-345, Beethoven to Zmeskall, April 23rd: "alles wird gut gehn, der Erzherzog wird diesen Fürst fizly puzly ... bei den Ohren nehmen..." ["everything will go well, the Archduke will take this Prince fizly puzly . . . by his ears..."];

12. No. 645, GA Vol. 2, p. 345; Beethoven to Zmeskall, April 26th: In this letter, Beethoven mentions that Lobkowitz will probably give him a day after May 15th for an academy concert;

13. No. 647, GA Vol. 2, p. 346, Beethoven to Zmeskall, April: Baron Schweiger wanted to see Zmeskall at Archduke Rudolph's, so that details for an academy concert could be discussed; 

14. No. 649, GA Vol. 2, p. 347, Beethoven to Zmeskall, May 10th: He asked Zmeskall to remain silent about Prince Lobkowitz;

15. No. 652, GA Vol.. 2, p. 349-350; Beethoven to Varena in Graz, May 27th: In this letter, Beethoven offered him Op. 92 and Op. 93, again. 

 The course of this correspondence corresponds with Barry Cooper's following report: 

"A final blow came in April [1813].  He hoped to use his two new symphonies and perhaps some numbers from his two recent singspiels for a benefit concert that month.  All suitable venues were refused, however.  Lobkowitz, in charge of the theatres, proposed some date after 15 May, but by then many among the potential audience would be out of town and a benefit concert would no longer be worth while.  Beethoven therefore abandoned the idea and with it any hopes of a substantial windfall from a successful performance.  . . . " [Cooper: 224].

From the above summary of Beethoven's correspondence we learn that Beethoven's Eighth Symphony could first be heard in private at the orchestra rehearsal on April 21, 1813, at Archduke Rudolph's rooms at the Hofburg in Vienna.  With respect to this, the overview of the Eighth Symphony offered at the web site of the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn points out the possibility that after this rehearsal, Beethoven might have altered the finale, again.  In his description of the Eighth Symphony, Lewis Lockwood also refers to the second version of the finale of the Eighth Symphony:  

"Touches of subtlety abound right to the end.  In one passage, the winds in successive measures bring the interval of a third down through successive registers via pairs of flutes, oboes, clarinets, horns, and bassoons--and then right back up again through the same instruments.  In fact Beethoven thought of this touch of comedy only at the final autograph stage of the symphony--we find him originally writing repeated chords for all the winds right through these measures; then, struck by a new idea, crossing out all the extra wind chords to leave just the falling and rising motions as they stand in the final version. . . . " [Lockwood: 234-237].  

It should take almost a year until Beethoven, in the winter of 1814, would have an opportunity to present this symphony to the public.  Our creation history of the Seventh Symphony, in combination with the creation history of the so-called Battle Symphony, Wellington's Victory at Vittoria, also describes the course of the events of the staging of concerts by Beethoven in the winter of 1813/1814.  Therefore, here, we want to immediately embark on describing the events of the Premiere of the Eighth Symphony.  With respect to it, Thayer-Forbes reports:    

"The Wiener Zeitung of February 24th contains the advertisement of the "Akademie, next Sunday, the 27th inst. in the large Redoutensaal," announcing "a new symphony not yet heard and an entirely new as yet unheard terzetto" as novelties.  To Hummel, Beethoven writes:

    Best beloved Hummel!  I beg of you conduct this time again the drumheads and cannonades with your admirable kapellmeister's and filed-marshal's baton--do it, I beg of you, and if ever I am wanted to cannonade you, I shall be at your service body and soul.--

                                                                                                                              Your friend Beethoven

    The report in the Allg. Mus. Zeit. contains the programme in full with a few short and pertinent observations:

1.   The new symphony (A major) which was received with so much applause, again. . . . 

2.   An entirely new Italian terzetto . . .

3.  An entirely new, hitherto unheard symphony (F major, 3/4 time).  The greatest interest of the listeners seemed centered on this, the newest product of B's muse, and expectation was tense, but this was not sufficiently gratified after the single hearing, and the applause which it received was not accompanied by that enthusiasm which distinguishes a work which gives universal delight; in short--as the Italians say--it did not create a furore.  This reviewer is of the opinion that the reason does not lie by any means in weaker or less artistic workmanship (for here as in all of B's works of this class there breathes that peculiar spirit by which his originality always asserts itself); but partly in the faulty judgment which permitted this symphony to follow that in A major, partly the surfeit of beauty and excellence which must necessarily be followed by a reaction.  If this symphony should be performed alone hereafter, we have no doubt of its success.

4. At the close, "Wellington's Victory" . . . " [TF: 575-576].

With respect to the costs, TF writes: 

   "Schindler discovered among Beethoven's papers, and has communicated substantially in his book, certain accounts of expenses incurred in this concert.  Only the Eighth Symphony and the terzetto had to be copied; for these "the specification amounted in total: 452 written pages at 12 kreutzers, makes 90 florins, 24 kr.; the specified cost of the orchestra alone at this concert amounted to 344 florins.  Nevertheless, only 7 first violinists and only 6 seconds who were paid some 5 some 7 fl. are mentioned by name, because in each part twice as many dillettanti had played."  One of Beethoven's own memoranda gives the exact number of the string instruments:  "At my last concert in the large Redoutensaal there were 18 first violins, 18 second, 14 violas, 12 violoncellos, 7 contra-basses, 2 contra-bassoons."  Whether the audience numbered 5000, as Schindler reports, or 3000, which is more likely, the clear pecuniary profits of the two concerts were very large.  Czerny remembered that on this occasion the Eighth Symphony "by no means pleased" and Beethoven was angry thereat, "because it is much better," he said.  . . . " [TF: 576].



Already in our treatment of the complicated publication history of the Seventh Symphony, we encountered references to the Eighth Symphony, here and there.  What we can take 'out' of all of this prior consideration are two relevant questions:  

1.  Why did this symphony, as many other works of this time, not get published in Leipzig but rather in Vienna?

2.  What fate were Beethoven's attempts at publishing Op. 93 in England met with?

In trying to answer these questions, let us not proceed separately, but rather consider them together, in a chronological manner.  

That Beethoven at least mentioned his new symphonies to Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig becomes clear from these lines:  

"Beethoven an Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig:

                                                                                                                         [Wien, um den 25. Mai 1812][1]


. . .

    leben sie wohl ich schreibe 3 neue sinfonien, wovon eine bereits vollendet,[4] . . .  "

"Beethoven to Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig:

                                                                                                                         [Vienna, around May 25, 1812][1]


. . .

    farewell, I am writing 3 new symphonies, of which one is already completed,[4] . . .  "

[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 2, Letter No. 577, p. 263-264; Original:  Bonn, Beethoven-Haus,  Bodmer Collection; to [1]: according to the GA this refers to the fact that the letter, as noted by the publisher, arrived in Leipzig on June 1, 1812 and that the time of its dispatch has been calculated accordingly; to [4]:  refers to Op. 92; according to the GA, the autograph that, at present, is located in Krakau, in the "Biblioteka Jagielolonska", bears the date: "1812.  13th of April", with which, according to the GA, reference is probably made to the completion of the autography; details taken from p. 263-264].

As we know, on of the not yet finished symphonies was Op. 93.  

Barry Cooper discusses why Beethoven did not give the Eighth Symphony and other works of this time to Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig:.

"He also now had a collection of unpublished works to offer to publishers.  He did not revive his association with Breitkopf & H&auml;rtel, however, but turned to a relatively new local publisher, Sigmund Anton Steiner.  When Beethoven's funds had been exhausted in 1813, Steiner had lent 1500 fl. to help support Carl and his family, but instead of using his new wealth to refund Steiner in 1815, Beethoven gave him some compositions.  The full list of what Steiner acquired at that time appears in a document dated 29 April 1815:

Fidelio, full score

Der glorreiche Augenblick, full score

String Quartet (Op. 95)

Vocal trio (Tremate, Op. 116)

Wellingtons Sieg

Symphony No. 7

Symphony No. 8

Piano Trio (Op. 97)

Violin Sonata (Op. 96)

Three overtures (Die Ruinen von Athen, König Stephan, 'Namensfeier')

Twelve 'English Songs'.

Steiner thus became Beethoven's principal publisher until the 1820s, although several works on the list did not appear for some years" [Cooper: 236-237].

Beethoven's first correspondence with his Viennese publisher in which Op. 93 is mentioned are his lines of February 1, 1815, to Sigmund Anton Steiner:  

"Beethoven an Sigmund Anton Steiner

                                                                                                                 Wien den 1. Februar 1815.

Wohlgebohrenster General Leutnant![1]

    Ich habe ihre Zuschrift an meinen Bruder[2] heute erhalten, und bin damit zufrieden, doch muß ich sie bitten die Unkosten der Klavierauszüge noch außerdem zu bestreiten, da ich erstlich alles in der Welt bezahlen muß und alles theurer als andre, so würde mir das schwer fallen; ohnehin glaube ich nicht, daß sie sich über das Honorar von 250# beschweren können -- aber ich möchte mich auch nicht gern beschweren, daher besorgen Sie die Auszüge selbst,[3] doch sollen alle von mir übersehen, und wo es nöthig, verbessert werden, ich hoffe, daß sie damit zufrieden sind. --

    Nebstdem könnten sie wohl meinem Bruder die Sammlungen von Clementis, Mozarts, Haidns Klavierwerke zugeben, er braucht sie für seinen kleinen Sohn[4], thun sie das mein allerliebster Steiner und seyn sie nicht von Stein, so steinern auch ihr Name ist -- leben sie wohl vortrefflicher Generalleutenant ich bin wie allezeit

Ihr ergebenster Obergeneral

                                                                                                                                Ludwig van Beethoven"

"Beethoven to Sigmund Anton Steiner

                                                                                                                Vienna, the 1st of February, 1815.

Most Well-born General Lieutenant![1]

    Today, I have received your letter to my brother[2] and am satisfied with it, but I have to ask you to also bear the cost for the piano reductions, since I, firstly, have to pay everything in the world and everything more dearly than others, so that it would be difficult for me; in any event, I do not believe that you can complain about the fee of 250#--however, I also do not like to complain, therefore, take care of the reductions, yourself,[3] however, all of them shall be revised by me and, where necessary, corrected, I hope that you are satisfied with this. -- 

    Moreover, you were probably able to give to my brother the collections of Clementi's, Mozart's, Haydn's piano works, he needs them for his little son[4], do that, my most dear Steiner and do not be as hard as stone, no matter how stony your name is--farewell most excellent General Lieutenant, I am, as always, 

your most devoted Supreme General

                                                                                                                                Ludwig van Beethoven"

[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 3, Letter No. 780, p. 109; Original:  not known, text pursuant to first print in Thayer III, p. 498; to [1]:  refers to the humorous military nicknames Beethoven used in corresponding with Steiner; to [2]: refers to Kaspar Karl van Beethoven.  According to the GA, Steiner's letter has not been preserved; to [3]: according to the GA, this probably refers to the piano reductions of Op. 116, Op. 91, Op. 93 and Op. 92 that have been listed in the publishing contract of May 20, 1815 as points 5 - 8; to [4]: refers to Beethoven's nephew Karl van Beethoven; details taken from p. 109].

From these lines and from the footnotes we can see that very likely, the publisher had to take care of the piano reductions to Op. 92 and Op. 93, himself.  

That Beethoven also tried to sell Op. 93 in England, becomes clear from his and Häring's letter of March 16th and 19th, 1815, to Sir George Smart in London:  

"Johann von Häring und Beethoven an Sir George Smart in London

                                                                                                                          [Wien, 16. und 19. März 1815]

My dear Sir George

    I see by the papers that You have brought forth in the theatre Beethoven's battle and that it was received with considerable applause;[2] I was very happy to find that your partiality to Mr. B's compositions is not diminished, and therefore I take the liberty in his name to thank You for the assistance you afforded in the performance of that uncommon piece of musick.  He has arranged it for the Pianoforte, but having offered the Original to His R.[oyal]] H.[ighness] the Prince Regent, he durst not venture to sell that arrangement, to any Editor, until he knew the Prince's pleasure not only with respect to the dedication, but in general.[3]  Having waited so many months without receiving the least ackowledgment, he begged me to apply to you for advice.  His idea is to dispose of this arrangement and of several other original Compositions to an Editor in London -- or perhaps to several united, if they would make a handsome offer -- they would besides engage, to let him know the day of the appearance for sale of the respective pieces, in order that the Editor here may not publish one copy before the day to be mentioned.  At the end of this letter follows the list of such compositions with the price which the author expects.  I am persuaded, Sir George, You will exert yourself to benefit this great genius.  He talks continually of going to England, but I am afraid that his deafness, seemingly increasing does not allow him the execution of this favorite idea.

    You are informed without doubt that his opera: Fidelio, has had the most brilliant success here,[4] but the execution is so difficult that it would not suit any of the English houses.

    I submit here his list with the prices -- None of the following pieces has ever been published, but N. 2. 4. & 9 -- have been performed with the greatest applause. --

    1 Serious Quartetto for 2 Violins, tenor and bass[5]. -- . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Guins.

   2 Battle of Vittoria[[6] -- Score . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70  "

   3 "                "             arranged for the Pianoforte . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30  "

   4 A Grand Symphony[7] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Score . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  70  "

  5        "            "          arranged for the P.F. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 "

  6  A Symphony[8] -- Key f . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 "

  7          "                      arranged . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 "

  8  Grand Trio for the Pinaoforte Violin & Violoncello[9] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 "

  9  Three overtures for a full orchestra[10] . . . . . . . . . . . . each . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  30 "

10  The three arrangements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . each . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15 "

11  A Grand Sonata for the Pianoforte & Violin[11] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  25 "

The above is the product of four Years labour.

    Our friend Neate has not yet made his appearance here[12] -- nor is it at all known where he is roving about.  We -- I mean mostly amateurs -- are now rehearsing Handel's Messiah[13] -- I am to be leader of the 2d. Violins; there will be this time 144 Violins -- first and second altogether, and the singers and remainder in proportion. -- I have been so unfortunate as not to receive a single line or answer from England since my stay in Vienna which is near 3 months; this discourages me very much from writing, for I have dispatched immediately after my arrival several letters and have been continuing to send letters, but all in vain.  Amongst those to whom I wrote about 2 months ago, is our friend Disi[14] -- pray if you meet him, give him and his very respectable family my best regards.  I have passed so many happy hours in his house, it would be highly ungrateful for me to forget such an amiable family.--

    Beethoven happening to call on me just now, he wishes to address a few lines to you, which you find at the bottom of this. -- My direction is:

                                                                                      Monsieur Jean de Häring

                                                                                            No. 298 Kohlmarkt.


    Poor B. is very anxious to hear something of the English editors, as he hardly can keep those of this city from him, who teaze him for his works. --

    Give me leave to thank you for the trouble you have taken several times, as I understand, in taking my works under your protection, by which I don't doubt all justice has been done. I hope you will not find it indiscreet if I solicit you to answer Mr. Häring's letter as soon as possible.  I should feel myself highly flattered, if you could express your wishes, that I may meet them, in which You will always find me ready as an acknowledgement of the favors you have heaped upon my children. --

    Yours gratefully

                                                                                                       Ludwig van Beethowen

Vienna 16. March 1815

    And now I shall beg, my dear Sir George, not to take this long letter amiss, and to believe that I am always, with the greatest regard,

your most humble & ob't serv't.

                                                                                                                                      John Häring

Vienna 19. March 1815

Sir George Smart Great Portland Street London"

[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 3, Letter No. 790, p.119-122; Original:  Bonn, Beethoven-Haus, Bodmer Collection; to [1]: refers to Johann von Häring, the business partner of Franz Joseph Breuß von Henikstein, the owner of the "k.k. priv. Baumwollgarngespinst-Fabrik nach englischer Art"; to [2]: refers to the fact that, on February 10 and 13, 1815, Sir George Smart had staged Beethoven's Battle Symphony Op. 91 in London's Drury Lane Theatre, with great success; to [3]: refers to the fact that, at the beginning of 1814, Beethoven has sent to the Prince Regent and later King George IV. of England a score copy of Op. 91 but that he has not received a reply or confirmation; to [4]: refers to the fact that on May 23, 1814, the third version of Beethoven's opera Fidelio had been performed with great success at the Viennese Kärntertortheater and that it had been repeated several times, thereafter; to [5]:refers to Op. 95; to   [6]: refers to  Op. 91; to [7]: refers to Op. 92; to [8]: refers to Op. 93; to [9]: refers to Op. 97; to [10]: refers to the Overtures from Op. 113 and Op. 117t as well as to the Overture Zur Namensfeier, Op. 115; to [11]: refers to Op. 96; to [12]:  refers to the fact that in May 1815 Charles Neate came to Vienna; to [13]: refers to concerts put on by the Society of the Friends of Music on April 20 and 23, 1815; to [14]: probably refers to the Belgian harpist and composer Dixi who lived in London; details taken from p. 121-122].

If we look into the following links to the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn, we learn that the ownership declaration by Beethoven to S.A. Steiner were dated April 29th and May 20th, 1815:  

Eigentumsbestätigung für S.A. Steiner vom 29. April 1815
[At the Digital Beethoven-Haus in Bonn]

Eigentumsbestätigung vom 20. Mai 1815 für S. A. Steiner
[At the Digital Beethoven-Haus in Bonn]

In his list of works that Beethoven, according to the "Eigentumsbestätigung" of April 29, 1815, had given to Steiner, Barry Cooper [p. 236-237] also mentions the Eighth Symphony.  

In his attempt at marketing his new works in England, on June 1, 1815, Beetoven also wrote to Johann Peter Salomon in London:  

"Beethoven an Johann Peter Salomon in London

                                                                                                                                 Vien am 1ten Juni 1815

Mein Verehrter Lands-Mann!

     Immer hoffte ich den Wunsch erfüllt zu sehn, Sie einmal selbst in London zu sprechen zu hören, allein immer standen mir diesen wunsch auszuführen, mancherley Hinderniße entgegen. -- und eben deswegen, da ich nun nicht in dem Falle bin, hoffe ich daß sie mir meine Bitte nicht abschlagen werden, die darin Besteht, daß Sie die Gefälligkeit hätten, mit einem dortigen verleger zu sprechen, und ihm folgende Werke von mir anzugtragen[1] "Großes Terzett für Klawier, violin, und Violonschell [60#[2]] Sonate für Klawier mit einer Violine 6o#  Große Sinfonie in A (eine meiner Vorgzüglichsten] kleinere Sinfonie in F. -- Quartett für 2 violinen Viola und Violonschell in F moll. -- Große Oper in Partitur 30# -- Kantate mit Chören und SoloStimmen 30# -- Paritur der Schlacht von Vittoria auf Welligton's Sieg 80# wie auch der Klawierauszug <. . . #,[3] (wenn er, wie man mich hier versichert, nicht schon heraus ist[4] -- ich habe nur beyläfig zu einigen Werken das honorar beygefügt, welche ich glaube für England recht zu seyn, überlaße aber bey diesen wie bey den andern ihnen selbst, Was Sie am besten finden, daß man dafür gibt. --

    ich höre zwar Kramer ist auch verleger,[5] allein mein Schüler Riess schrieb mir vor kurzem, daß selber öffentlich sich gegen meine Komposizionen erklärt habe,[6] ich hoffe aus keinem andern Grunde, als der Kunst zu nüzen, und so habe ich gar nichts darwider einzuwenden, will jedoch Kramer etwas von diesen schändlichen Kunstwerken besizen, so ist er mir so lieb als jeder andere verleger. -- ich behalte mir bloß vor, daß ich selbe Werke auch einem hiesigen verleger geben darf,[7] so daß diese Werke <bloß für deutschland und England wären> eigentlich nur in London und Vien herauskommen würden, und zwar zu gleicher Zeit. --

. . .

ihr Verehrer und Freund

                                                                                                                              ludwig van Beethowen.


Mr. Salomon most renowned virtuoso in the service of His Royal Highness the Prince Regent

London Newman street. Oxford street no. 70"

"Beethoven to Johann Peter Salomon in London

                                                                                                                                 Vienna the 1st of June, 1815

My Revered Fellow Countryman!

     I always hoped to see my wish fulfilled that I would have the chance of speaking to you in London, myself, alone many obstacles were in may way of fulfilling my wish.--And for that very reason, since I am not in this situation, I hope that you will not refuse my request which consists of asking you for the favor to speak to a local publisher and to offer him the following works of mine[1] "Grand Trio for Piano, Violin and Violoncello 60#[2]] Sonata for Piano with one Violin 6o#  Grand Symphony in A (one of my most excellent ones] smaller Symphony in F. -- Quartet for 2 Violins Viola and Violoncello in F minor. -- Grand Opera in score 30# -- Cantata with Choruses and SoloParts 30# -- Score of the Battle at Vittoria on Wellington's Victory 80# as well as the Piano Reduction <. . . #,[3] (if it has not, as one assures me here, already been published[4]--to some works, I have just, as an aside, added the fee which I believe to be correct for England, but, as with the other words, I will leave it up to you what you find best that one will pay for them.--  

    I hear that Kramer is also a publisher,,[5] alone my pupil Riess recently wrote to me that he publicly expressed himself against my compositions,[6] I hope that this was due to no other reason than to serve art, and therefore, I have nothing to say against it, however, if Kramer wants to own anything of these shameful works of art, I will accept him as I would accept any other publisher.--I only reserve the right that I may give the same works also to a local publisher here,[7] so that these works would only be for Germany and England and that they would actually only be published in London and Vienna, and that at the same time. --

. . .

Your admirer and friend

                                                                                                                              ludwig van Beethowen.


Mr. Salomon most renowned virtuoso in the service of His Royal Highness the Prince Regent

London Newman street. Oxford street no. 70"

[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 3, Letter No. 809, p. 142-144; Original:  Bonn, Beethoven-Haus,  Bodmer Collection; to [1]: according to the GA, the sequence of works is as follows: Op. 97, Op. 96, Op. 92, Op. 93, Op. 95, p. 72, Op. 136 and Op. 91; according to the GA, Beethoven has already asked George Smart, in his Letter No. 790 of March 19, 1815, to act on his behalf with respect to these works, with the exception of Op. 136; as the GA reports, Salomon arranged the contact with Robert Birchall who purchased the Piano Reductions Op. 91 and Op. 92 as well as the Violin Sonata Op. 96 and the Piano Trio Op. 97; to [2]: refers to the fact that the first number, according to the GA, has been written over and is therefore illegible; to [3] refers to the crossing-out of a price indication and to illegibility; to [4]: refers to the fact that a piano reduction of Op. 91 had not been published, yet; to [5]: refers to Johann Baptist Cramer [1751 - 1858], a German pianist and composer who lived in London and who had established himself there as a publisher in 1805 and who had partnered up with Samuel Chappell in 1810 and with Robert Adison and Thomas Frederick Beale in 1824; to [6]: refers to the fact that such a letter by Ries, according to the GA, has not been preserved; to [7[: refers to the fact that Beethoven had alsready sold these works to S.A. Steiner in Vienna; details taken from p. 143].

Letter of June 1, 1815 to Johann Peter Salomon in London
[At the Digital Archives of the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn]

As mentioned in footnote 1 to the above letter, Salomon made contact with Robert Birchall.  On October 28, 1815, Beethoven wrote the following lines to the latter:  

"Beethoven an Robert Birchall in London

                                                                                                                   Vien am 28ten oktober 1815

Euer Wohlgebohrn!

   Ich melde ihnen, daß Die Schlacht und SiegsSimphonie auf Wellingtons Sieg[1] im Klawierauszuge schon vor mehrern Tagen noch London abgeschikt worden, und zwar an das Hauß Thomas Coutts & C in London[2] wo sie selbe abholen können. -- ich bitte sie sich so viel als möglich zu beeilen, dieselbe zu stechen, und mir den Tag zu bestimmen, wann sie solche herausgeben wollen, damit ich diesen dem hiesigen verleger[3] bey Zeiten anzeigen könne -- mit den nachfolgenden 3 Werken[4] hat es nicht so große Eile nöthig, die sie ehestens erhalten werden, und wo ich ihnen den Tag mir die Freiheit nehmen werde, selbst bestimmen werde. --

    Hr. Salomon wird die Güte haben, ihnen näher auseinander zu sezen, warum es mit der Schlacht und Siegessimphonie mehr Eile hat.[5] --

    in Er[w]artung* einer sehr baldigen Antwort in Rücksicht der Bestimmung Tages der Herausgabe des nun erhaltnen Werkes

verbleibe ich ergebner Diener

                                                                                                                              Ludwig van Beethowen

Mr. Birchall music Seller Nr. 133 New Bond Street London"

"Beethoven to Robert Birchall in London

                                                                                                                   Vienna, the 28th of october 1815

Your Well-Born!

   I advise you that the piano reduction of the Battle and VictorySymphony on Wellington's Victory[1] has already been sent to London, several days ago, namely to Thomas Coutts & C in London[2] where you can pick the same up.--I ask you to hurry as much as possible with the etching and to determine the day on which you want to publish the work so that I can let my local publisher know in good time[3]-- with respect to the following 3 works[4] which you will receive the soonest and with respect to which I will take the liberty of determining the day, myself,, there is less of a hurry.--

    Hr. Salomon will be so kind as to explain to you why there is more of a hurry with respect to the Battle and VIctorySymphony.[5]-- 

    In anticipation of a quick reply with respect to the determination of the publication date of the work that you will now have received 

I remain your devoted servant

                                                                                                                              Ludwig van Beethowen

Mr. Birchall music Seller Nr. 133 New Bond Street London"

[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 3, Letter No. 844, p. 172-173; Original:  London, British Library; to [1]: refers to Op. 91; to [2]: refers to the fact that this has been added by someone else; to [3]: refers to the fact that Beethoven had sold Op. 91 to S. A. Steiner in Vienna; to [4]:  refers to the fact that, in addition to Op. 91, Birchall hade also purchased the Piano Reduction to Op. 92 (which was published as Op. 98 on 7. Jan, 1817), the Violin Sonata, Op. 96 (which was published on Oct. 29, 1816) and the Piano Trio Op. 97 (which was published on December 5, 1816); to [5]: refers to the fact that the contact to Birchall had been established by Johann Peter Salomon; details taken from p. 173].

From this can be seen that neither the score nor the piano reduction to Op. 93 was bought by Birchall.  

Moreover, Charles Neate did not have any notes to this work with him when he returned to England.  

Beethoven's further correspondence regarding Op. 93 with Steiner and Haslinger leads us into the years 1816 and 1817 and speaks for itself:  

"Beethoven an Sigmund Anton Steiner

                                                                                                              [Wien, 1816][1]

    Ich schicke die geschriebene Partitur erst mit, angesehen habe ich sie nicht, vermuthlich ist sie nicht ohne Fehler.  Meine Meinung ist:  Wenn noch Auszüge zu machen sind, dann gleich nach der jetzigen Correktur[2], die mir vollendet wieder zuzustellen, dazu die alsdann folgenden Abdrucke wodurch die Auszüge auch vollendet werden, ich bitte mir anzuzeigen, wo man reinen grauen Streusand erhält, der meinige ist aus, und meine Asini um mich her können keinen d.g. auftreiben.

                                                                                                          Ihro L. v. Beethoven.



                  ri - tar- dando


                 gerade Pause"

"Beethoven to Sigmund Anton Steiner

                                                                                                              [Vienna, 1816][1]

    I am sending you the written score along, I have not looked at it, probably it is not without mistakes.  My opinion is:  If reductions still have to be made, then they should be made right after the present correction[2], which is to be sent to me when completed, and to it then the following prints, by means of which the reductions will also be completed; I ask to let me know where one can obtain clean, gray grit, mine has run out, and the asses around me can not find any.  

                                                                                                          Your L. v. Beethoven.


                  [Note Sample]

                  ri - tar- dando

                 [Note Sample]

                 straight pause"

[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 3, Letter No. 1034, p. 356-357, Original:  not known, text pursuant to  Thayer III, p. 493ff., who quoted from a lost copy by Otto Jahns; to [1]: refers to the fact that in this letter, Beethoven discusses a copy of a score of an orchestra work that was to be used for the printed version and also for the preparation of various arrangements, but that had not been reviewed by Beethoven; the GA is of the opinion that this might refer to Anton Diabelli's copy of Op. 93, and, based on this assumption, it places the letter into the year 1816, in which also the piano reduction and other arrangements of Op. 93 were prepared.  Pursuant to the GA, these versions were then published in the course of 1817; to [2]: according to the GA, this very likely refers to a copy of the score of Op. 93 that was enclosed with the letter; details taken from p. 357].  

"Beethoven an Sigmund Anton Steiner

                                                                                                          [Wien, vermutlich 1816/17][1]

    Hier folgt derweil die ganze Harmonie, die Stimmen für die S.[treich] I[nstrumente] schicke ich noch heute"

"Beethoven to Sigmund Anton Steiner

                                                                                                          [Vienna, probably 1816/17][1]

    Here, for the time being, there follows the entire harmony, the parts for the S.[tring instruments] I will still send today" 

[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 3, Letter No. 1048, p. 364-365, Original:  Vienna, Stadt- und Landesbibliothek; too [1] according to the GA, this probably refers to the correction work for the printing of the 7th or 8th Symphony and therefore, the letter should be assigned to this time; details taken from p. 365].  

"Beethoven an Sigmund Anton Steiner

                                                                                                         [Wien, vermutlich 1816/17][1]

    lieber Steiner, ich ersuche Sie die nächste Korrektur in zusammenhängenden Bögen an mich gelangen zu lassen -- übrigens ergehen Anklagen wider den G--t wider desselben adjutanten wie auch wider den Generalprofosen[2] -- ein KriegsGericht dörfte entscheiden müssen. -- "

"Beethoven to Sigmund Anton Steiner

                                                                                                         [Vienna, probably 1816/17][1]

    dear Steiner, I ask you to send the next correction to me in consecutive sheets--otherwise, there are arising complaints against the G--t, namely against his aide and against the "Generalprofosen"[2]--a martial court will have to render judgment.--"  

[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 3, Letter No. 1049, p. 365; Original: Vienna, Stadt- und Landesbibliothek; to [1]: according to the GA, the "honorary titles" bestowed upon Steiner's staff probably indicate that this letter was written during Beethoven's earlier years of contact with Steiner; to [2]: probably refers to Diabelli; details taken from p. 365].  

 "Beethoven an Sigmund Anton Steiner

                                                                                                          [Wien, nach dem 9. Januar 1817][1]

Ich Sende hiermit meinem gestn g---l l---t den Verbesserten Klawierauszug, die verbesserungen des Czerni sind anzunehmen[2] -- uebrigens Hat der Hr. g.---l l---t wieder Neuerdings die vielen Verbrechen im Klawiers Auszuge des Adjutanten anzusehen, Diesem Gemäss ist heute am andern Ohr des A. dieselbe execution wie gestern <vorzunehmen>auszuüben, sollte derselbe auch ganz unschuldig befunden werden, so soll doch die Execution statt haben, damit demselben Furcht und Schrecken überhaupt von allen künftigen Verbrechen <ab> eingejagt werde; Es ist Unterdessen von der gestrigen u. heutigen Execution Bericht zu erstatten.

   ich umarme meinen Besten g---l l---t indem ich den Klawierauszug der Schwer zu Exiquirenden Sinfonie in F schicke

dero etc etc etc

An Seine Hochgebohren Hr. g---l l---t v. Steiner


"Beethoven to Sigmund Anton Steiner

                                                                                                          [Vienna, after January 9, 1817][1]

Herewith, I am sending to my esteemed g---l l---t the corrected piano reduction, the corrections by Czerni are to be accepted[2]--moreover, the Hr. g.---l l---t has to take a new look at the many crimes in the piano reduction of the aide.  Accordingly, the other ear of A. has to be treated in the same manner as yesterday; should the latter be found entirely innocent, then the punishment should still be administered, so that fear and awe will be instilled in him:  And of yesterday's and today's metering-out of the punishment, a report has to be rendered.  

   I am embracing my best g---l l---t while I am sending him the piano reduction to the Symphony in F that is difficult to perform. 

Yours etc etc etc

To His High-born Hr. g---l l---t v. Steiner

(By My Own Hand"

[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 4, Letter No. 1063, p. 9-10, Original: Berlin, Staatsbibliothek; to [1]: pursuant to the GA, the wording "Schwer zu Exiquirende Siinfonie" is based on a remark by the Viennese AMZ of Jan. 9, 1817 that is directed at Op. 92; to [2]: refers to the fact that Haslinger had prepared a reduction of Op. 93 for piano, for four hands.  From Diablelli's copy of this piano reduction it becomes clear that Haslinger's work had been corrected by Czerny and by Beethoven; details taken from p. 10].  

"Beethoven an Sigmund Anton Steiner

                                                                                                        [Wien, nach dem 9. Januar 1817][1]

Bester g---l l---t!

. . . 

wie siehts aus wegen der Correcturen der Sonate u. uebrigen Zwiebeln[6]"

"Beethoven to Sigmund Anton Steiner

                                                                                                        [Vienna, after Jan. 9, 1817][1]

Best g---l l---t!

. . . 

how about the corrections to the Sonata as well as to the other onions[6]"

[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 4, Letter No. 1064, p. 10-11; Original:  Bonn-Beethoven-Haus, Bodmer Collection; to [6]: refers to the corrections of the original edition of Op. 101 and probably to the preparations of the printing of the various editions of Op. 93; details taken from p. 11].  

Tobias Haslinger


"Beethoven anTobias Haslinger

                                                                                                        [Wien, nach dem 9. Januar  1817][1]

Der Adjutant sowohl schuldig als unschuldig ist ersucht, die Correcturen der sinfonie in F[2] u. der Sonate in A[3], indem ich eben jetzt zu Hause bleibe, u. die sache eher befördern kann . . .  "

"Beethoven to Tobias Haslinger

                                                                                                        [Vienna, after Jan 9,  1817][1]

The aide, both guilty and innocent, is asked to . . . the corrections of the Symphony in F[2] and of the Sonata in A[3], since I am staying at home now and therefore can look after the matter, sooner . . .  "

[Source:  Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 4, Letter No. 1066, Original: Vienna, Stadt- und Landesbibliothek; to [2]: refers to Op. 93; detail taken from p. 1066].

Both TF [p. 692] and Solomon [p. 214] list Op. 93 as having been published by S.A. Steiner in Vienna in 1817. After our look at the publication of the Eighth Symphony, let us turn to its fate during Beethoven's lifetime.   




Thayer-Forbes' first report on a subsequent performance of this Symphony is referring to the year 1817:  

"But one public appearance professionally of Beethoven is recorded this year.  At the concert of the Hospital Fund on December 25, the first part was devoted to the Eighth Symphony, which was conducted by the composer. . . ." [TF: 691, 1817].

Solomon [p. 250] also refers to this benefit concert.

In March 1818 the Leipzig Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung reviewed the recently published Op. 93:  

"The 4th of March                                                       No. 9                                                                                                          1818.

Eighth great Symphony in F major for 2 violins, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, kettledrums, violoncelllo and bass, by Ludwig van Beethoven. 93rd work. Vienna, [published] by Steiner u. Comp.

This Symphony that lies before us and that has appeared in print only recently, to the true joy of all admirers of Beethoven, begins with an Allegro vivace 2/4 F major. With the following, strongly indicated motif: [Note sample] the composer clearly indicates to us what he has actually meant to say.  By soon adding to this simple theme a second one that is no less understandable: [Note sample] and by having the wind instruments imitate it immediately thereafter: [Note sample] he has ample material out of which he can form a character painting in the way in which Mozart, Joseph Haydn and others have outlined their wonderful works of this kind: however, this was a plan that, for Beethoven's thinking, was still too limited and which he, therefore, expanded much wider.-- We would go far beyond the scope of our review if we were to examine all examples in this work as to how and by what means this purpose has been achieved:  just one example from the beautifully constructed middle movement may find room here:  [note sample]. 

We advise everyone to commit to their memories the first four notes of the main theme, since they return numerous times, predominantly in the beautifully executed second part, always in new forms and in distant keys, singly, as imitations here, in the wind instruments, and there, in inversion, then carried in all 4 parts by the string instruments, always narrowed by 1/4 note, but most imposing when the bass carries it majestically and thereby surprisingly leads into the recapitulation of the first part; even at the every end, they appear in the quietest unisono like a friendly echo: in short, what is the result of a keen study of the score is that this work, in every respect, can be called excellent and that it contains a wealth of ideas and beauty in the artful presentation of them and therefore, in its execution, has to be of great effect.--   

An Allegretto scherzando --B major 2/4--also immediately announces in the first bar what is to be expected, of which spirit it is, and that utter seriousness should be looked for, in vain.   One should look at the beginning and draw one's conclusions from it with respect to that which follows:  [Note sample].  This loose, capricious butterfly nature does not deny its existence for a moment and, so to say, speaks with every note and even exercises its wit wonderfully at the end, for it surprises us so abruptly that we believes ourselves to be fooled: for a few seconds, we are waiting for the continuance and finally, in order to be able to hold on to this pure enjoyment for a bit longer, necessarily, it calls for a repetition.  That this will happen in performance, the reviewed believes to be able to guarantee. It is an utterly tender, naives thing, this humoresque play and he would have to be a born enemy of joyful banter--in notes and in general--who will not be forced to a friendly smile [by it] or into an agreeable nod.  Moreover that here, and that rightfully so--much hinges on the arrangement and the interaction between the instruments, is evident at first sight; the reviewer who has gone through it often with increasing delight, can therefore not hide his wish to hear it soon in order to see his prediction fulfilled.--We shall now discuss the 3rd movement of this symphony, the actual minuet, the motif of which is this:  [note sample].  It can not be denied that this thought, as such, does not contain much of importance; however, the way in which our master embellished it, it becomes of not too little interest.  Just as the diligence and the talented hand of the experienced gardener will graft delicious fruit onto meager branches, the true, born composer will do likewise. Under his pen, nothing remains common:  the common is ennobled under his hands.  In this way, J. Haydn formed a great whole out of many a simple, very popular theme that, in its transformation, delighted connoisseurs and laymen alike, and so does also our genial Beethoven, who has this minuet followed by a trio that could be called an example of charming simplicity.  .Two obbligato horns and a clarinet share the song and are accompanied by the cello in murmuring triplets.  (If only it will be distinctly enhanced each time!) In the 2nd part, the violins carry the motif and begin it in C major, pass through A-flat major and, by means of the following, simple and natural sequence of harmonies, lead back to the tonic F major, where the horns take the reigns, again and spin the thread to the end:  [note sample]. 

The Finale--an actual Rondeau--Allegro vivace, in F major--belongs to those pieces of which the reviewer, even after the most thorough study, can not state with certainty if they will achieve the intended effect in performance, if also a less trained ear will be able to follow the train of thought of the composer in order to make sense of the apparently chaotic confusion.  This finale belongs to the genre, that the Italian describes with the term: musica stravagante--although it beings quite innocently and unassumingly:  [note sample]. 

However, subsequently, if rises to the utmost frolicsomeness and, at times, behaves like an untamed filly.   The prevailing, lighthearted, adventurous character does not abate for a moment.  In this way, for example, prepared by a single note, certainly unexpected, the full orchestra sets in [note sample].  Thereafter, the theme itself is heard in the remotest keys, even in D-flat major and F-sharp minor.  Entirely new is the recurring return to the first motif by means of the kettledrums, in the octave:  [note sample]. 

There is also no lack of lovely ideas, however, they are used somewhat sparingly and vanish quickly.  A middle movement, first in A-flat, later in D-flat, responded to by the wind instruments in C and F, appears to create a mood of calm pleasure, along, the pleasure is short-lived, we are torn out of it by force and thrown back into a whirl of notes.  Moreover, it need hardly be mentioned that our author  did not miss to throw in examples of his contrapuntal mastery and of canonic execution; to present evidence of this, let us only show this following passage that appears frequently and always in changing forms:  [note sample]. However, it is most interesting there where the melody is carried by the upper register of the wind instruments, while the string instruments, in drawn half-notes, go through an alternating harmony sequence.   The thus drawn-out finale of this rondeau that, through 50 bars, always remains in F major with its dominant, might turn all-too shrill on account of the high registers of the violins that have to almost uninterruptedly rise up to the A.-- 

As far as the printed edition of this Symphony is concerned, with respect to its correctness, it deserves all praise; however, we can not hide the wish that this diligent publisher should direct his attention to cleaner prints.  The copy before us is, with respect to clarity and sharpness of the printed notes, somewhat lacking and can hardly be used without applying corrections to it." 

As Thayer-Forbes reports, the Viennese were able to hear Op. 93 in 1820: 

"Of the performances of Beethoven's music during the year [1820], the following should be mentioned.  At the concerts of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde the Eroica was performed on February 20, . . . Symphony No. 8 in F major on November 19. . . . " [TF: 770].

Solomon, too [p. 267], refers to the concerts of the year 1820, including the performance of the Eighth Symphony. 




The above AMZ review of the Eighth Symphony from the year 1818 offers us a good overview of its musical content, while the following contributions from our times try to shed light on various aspects of the work. 




In the Eighth Symphony, Solomon sees a continuation of the spirit of the Seventh Symphony: 

"It was apparently a festal quality which the nineteenth-century critics senses in the Seventh Symphony and which is present as well in the Eighth, for the latter is an offshoot from the same creative impulse.  In Ernest Newman's words, it "takes the overspill of the mighty Seventh," voice, like its companion, "a mood of joyous acceptance of life and the world."  Wagner, too, saw the psychological similarity--and the festal character--of the two symphonies: "Their effect upon the listener is precisely that of emancipation from all guilt, just as the aftereffect is the feeling of Paradise forfeited, with which we return to the phenomenal world."

    Both symphonies omit the traditional slow movement--i.e., the movement of sorrow and contemplation, of mourning and and tragedy--present in all other Beethoven symphonies.  Indeed, the Eighth, with its Minuet and its Allegretto scherzando, goes further in this respect than the Seventh, . . .  Riezler touched on the essence of their similarity when he wrote that their professions of faith were "not festive Paradise, outside of time and history, untouched by mortality.  They transport us into a sphere of laughter, play, and the exuberant release of bound energy.  Here, as Bakhtin writes of the medieval festival, "for a short time life came out of its usual, legalized and consecrated furrows and entered the sphere of utopian freedom." [Solomon: 213].

William Kinderman describes the musical elements of Op. 93 in this way:  

"Ernest Newman once wrote that the Eighth Symphony 'takes the overspill of the mighty Seventh."  Despite the strong differences between these works, the extraordinary rhythmic intensity of the preceding symphony reappears in certain passages of the Eighth, particularly in the development of the first movement and the finale.  In its character the Eighth Symphony is somewhat reminiscent of the sublime comedy of the Second Symphony.  Beethoven often associated the key of F major with humour, and this work is no exception.  One of the humorous anecdotes often related about the symphony must be disallowed, however.  Schindler wrote that the Allegretto scherzando of the Eighth was based on a canon that Beethoven improvised in the spring of 1812 at a farewell dinner for Johann Nepomuk Mälzel. Mälzel was an investor best known for his devices to measure musical tempo. His first such device was the 'chronometer', which he was anxious to publicize at precisely this time (it was only several years later, in 1814, that he invented the metronome), and Beethoven's interest in him was connected in part to Mälzel's efforts to fashion ear-trumpets for the deaf composer. According to Schindler, Beethoven's party canon on 'ta ta ta'--representing the beat of the chronometer--supplied the principal motif for the second movement of the symphony. Research since the 1970s has indicated that the Mälzel canon is almost certainly a forgery.[17 See especially the symposium of essays by Stanley Howell, Kathryn John, and Harry Goldschmidt in Zu Beethoven, ed. Goldschmidt, ii, pp. 163-204]. Schindler forged many entries in the conversation notebooks that came into his possession. He had no scruples about fabricating history and did not hesitate to falsify sources to support the account published in his Beethoven biography. There is no manuscript for the alleged Mälzel canon, and the historical facts and sketch sources contradict Schindler's account of the genesis of the Allegretto Scherzando. Thus this colourful story must be laid to rest, despite its illustrious career in Beethoven biography.

Another recent finding is Sieghard Brandenburg's discovery from manuscript sources that Beethoven sketched the opening Allegro of the Eighth Symphony as a piano concerto.[18 'Ein Skizzenbuch Beethovens aus dem Jahre 1812', Zu Beethoven, ed. Goldschmidt, i, pp. 135-9]  Much of the symphonic exposition, up to the passage in dotted rhythm, was to have served as the introductory orchestral ritornello in the tonic key; at this point the solo piano was to enter with a cadenza.  The transformation of the nascent concerto into a symphony required no changes in the basic progression of themes.  But something of the genesis of the work can be felt in the contrast between the lighter, more transparent textures of the exposition and the forceful motivic repetitions and sustained syncopations of the development, which would not have found a home in a concerto.  The recapitulation marks the climax of this progression, and Beethoven writes a triple fortissimo in all the parts, creating problems of balance between the thematic return in the low register and the rest of the orchestra.  In this instance Beethoven enlarges the process of thematic return, diffusing the moment of recapitulation, which might also be placed at the more harmonically stable, dolce return of the theme in the winds.

The concluding Allegro vivace of the Eighth Symphony has been regarded as a sonata form with a coda almost as long as the rest of the movement, or, more convincingly, as a combination of sonata form and rondo, with two developments and two recapitulations.  Haydn had often resourcefully merged rondo and sonata form in the finales of his symphonies, but he had never attempted anything resembling this finale.  Beethoven's sublime humour is reflected above all in his treatment of the intrusive 'false note', the C# that is played between the paired statements making up the principal theme.  In the main body of the movement this striking dissonance is juxtaposed with the theme, but it exerts no further influence upon it.  Near the end of the movement, however, the C# asserts itself, shifting the entire perspective of the music.  The theme is subverted, and even the tonal equilibrium is thrown into question, as the music turns into F# minor, with the effect of an overturning of restraints.  Riezler described the passage as one of 'those sudden and surprising contrasts, which seem to tear open a gaping chasm beneath the hearer's feet, but which illumine the whole movement--the whole symphony--and are prepared with the greatest master and form part of the living organism'" [Kinderman:  159-161].

After Kinderman's comment, let us feature Barry Cooper's brief overview:  

"The most outstanding characteristic of the Eighth is perhaps its wit and humour, and in this feature, as well as its conciseness, it is closer to Haydn than to Beethoven's other symphonies.  It is none the less highly original, and much of its subtle humour can be overlooked by the uninitiated.  For example, in a conventional first movement the music generally moves to the dominant of the dominant in preparation for the second subject; here Beethoven ridicules convention by moving in the opposite direction, to the subdominant of the subdominant (bars 24-32), where the music appears to become stuck, with no obvious escape route.  Then by a sleight of hand, in which the dominant 7th of E flat is treated as an implied augmented 6th, Beethoven leads the music into D major, where a bassoon seems to poke fun at the strings.  Humorous devices are plentiful through the symphony, and include octave displacements (covering a full five octaves near the end of the finale), and improbable continuations and interruptions, such as the sudden unison fortissimos in the second movement (an Allegretto scherzando that replaces the usual slow movement).  This movement, the wittiest of all, also includes a five-note scale played five times (bars 36-39 and 69-72), cutting across the duple rhythm of the underlying pulse and further dislocated rhythmically by syncopated slurring.  In its overall structure the symphony follows the Piano Sonata, Op. 31 No. 3, but in the symphonic world it is quite unprecedented." [Cooper: 213].

Lewis Lockwood discusses the subtle balance of this work:  

"The Eighth Symphony surprises us with its diminutive proportions, its humor and playfulness, and its ostensible return to the world of late Haydn.  The Eighth is actually the shortest of all of Beethoven's symphonies, and its instrumentation is on the same reduced scale as that of the First, Second, and Fourth, with no trumpets or drums in its second movement.  When the public registered puzzlement about the Eighth after the spectacular energy of the Seventh, Beethoven said, according to Czerny, "That's because it's so much better."  Authentic or not, this remark catches the sense that the symphony's delicate shadings and subtle balances hay have been harder for him to achieve than the direct outpouring of action in the Seventh.  Furthermore, precisely because it emulates the smaller symphonic scale of Beethoven's predecessors, but from a modern perspective, this work stands in a stylistically distanced relationship to tradition and becomes an artful commentary on the historical development of the genre.

    As in the Seventh, the jewel in the setting is the slow movement, for many years thought to be based on a humorous canon by Beethoven, WoO 162, that refers to Johann Nepomuk Mälzel, inventor of the metronome-- until the canon was sown to be a falsification of Schindler's The movement combines two means of rhythmic motion: the steady, pulsating groups of sixteenths notes in groups of eight that establish the meter, and the anapest figure in the first violins that forms the basic theme, to which the cellos and basses provide an immediate answer that moves the harmony to the relative minor and gently propels the movement forward.

Not to be overlooked in this delicately wrought fabric are the pizzicato figures in the second violins and violas.  As in a comparable string-quartet texture, they lightly and percussively reinforce the rhythm of the first violin theme.  This movement, in its tracery, anticipates later movement in which Beethoven cultivates the lightest touch:  its great

successor is the Andante scherzoso of the String Quartet Opus 130.  In both he finds ways of working out echoes of short two-note figures between voices and registers.

    The other piece de resistance is the Finale.  Here we find a return to the rapid rhythmic action of the Seventh, but with generous hints from the finale of the "Ghost" Trio, Opus 70 No. 1.  The opening theme of this Allegro vivace is pianissimo.  Its rapid pairs of triplets lead immediately to a three-note dactylic figure on the downbeat that is a rephrased variant of the main figure of the slow movement (where it was always on the upbeat.  The reinforcement of this theme by violas and winds on its first appearance signals that the figure is to have a life of its own.  We then witness a series of surprising events, in which the three-note dactyl figure, always in the same melodic form, seems to settle down on the dominant, C major, but then after three tries, suddenly erupts onto a fortissimo C# that is left unresolved until much later in the movement.

    Paradox heaps on paradox.  The form is more or less that of a sonata form but with two codas.  The first acts like a second development section, transforming the harmonic framework of the first theme and modulating through various keys.  The second coda confirms the tonic, F major, but also supplies the longed-for resolution of that intrusive C# heard way back near the beginning of the movement.  Now the C# becomes the basis for a stormy interlude in F-sharp minor, then slips back with ease into the home channel of F major and vigorously runs its course.

    Touches of subtlety abound right to the end.  In one passage, the winds in successive measures bring the interval of a third down through successive registers via pairs of flutes, oboes, clarinets, horns, and bassoons--and then right back up again through the same instruments.  In fact Beethoven thought of this touch of comedy only at the final autograph stage of the symphony--we find him originally writing repeated chords for all the winds right through these measures; then, struck by a new idea, crossing out all the extra wind chords to leave just the falling and rising motions as they stand in the final version.  An element at the very end of the movement, hardly noticed, if at all, is typical of the little ways in which this symphony, in its artlessness that conceals art, predicts a detail of the late style.

    The final measures hammer home the tonic harmony in the full orchestra, one chord to a measure, but the bass, not yet finished with its candencing functions, at first alternates tonic and dominant under the tonic harmony above, until it too reiterates the tonic, but only in the very last two measures." [Lockwood:  234-237].



Our links on the topic offer you access to further reading, but also the opportunity to enjoy some listening samples.  We wish you a great deal of enjoyment with both! 

Hector Berlioz's Review of
the Eighth Symphony

Digital Archives, Beethoven-Haus Bonn:
The Eighth Symphony

Beethoven Symphonies at Classical Music Archives

Beethoven Symphonies at Classical Midi Archives

MP3 Files of Beethoven Works [by Opus Numbers]
at Dominique Prevot's Website




Cooper, Barry: Beethoven.  (Master Musician Series, edited by Stanley Sadie). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Kinderman, William.  Beethoven.  Oxford + New York, Oxford University Press, 1997.

Ludwig van Beethoven.  Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe. [6 Volumes]  Im Auftrag des Beethoven-Hauses Bonn edited by Sieghard Brandenburg.  Munich: 1996, G. Henle Verlag.

Solomon, Maynard. Beethoven. New York: Schirmer Books, Paperback Edition 1979.

Thayer's Life of Beethoven, edited by Elliott Forbes. Princeton, New Jersey Princeton University Press, 1964.